Client at a glance

Client
Zoos Victoria (Werribee Open Range Zoo)
Location
Werribee, Victoria
Completion date
2018
Project type
Solar Design

Zoos Victoria had very specific objectives for the Solar Project at Werribee Open Range Zoo. The client wanted visitors on the walkway leading to the zoo’s entry to literally see a forest of solar trees, providing a shaded canopy on peak visitation days and an opportunity to see a new age in solar panel technology, installation and design. The zoo already had 300kW of solar on site but this was not visible to the public so they wanted an aesthetic display in line with their African Safari theme that demonstrated to the public their commitment to solar and sustainable initiatives.

Autonomous Energy developed a truly innovative, unique design specifically to meet the design brief of the client. We designed a structure inspired by the African Thorn Tree paying careful consideration to the materials we sourced for construction.

Autonomous Energy solution

  • The design incorporated 100% recycled timber (ironbark) which met the environmental requirements of the client as well as providing a rustic aesthetic that matched surroundings.
  • We used bifacial panels spread in a wide canopy to allow light to filter through as it would through a real tree, with the framing of the panels designed to remove any obstructions from behind the cells.
  • While the tree structure is supported by a steel core for strength, we designed this to be wrapped in the same recycled timber as the ‘branches.’
  • The two sets of branches supporting the panel canopy from the trunk provide strength as well as invoking the thorn tree shape by using two angles supporting the middle and outside of the canopy span from the centre trunk. No steel was used in these branches which rely on the strength of the timber.
  • Numerous details were considered to ensure that the necessary strength was achieved whilst maintaining the aesthetics.
  • The whole structure was assessed and certified by a third party structural engineer.
  • The system was to provide lighting which it achieves with an efficient LED floodlight located at the top of each trunk shining up to a custom made reflective dome that splashes light back down to the ground around the trees. We carried out lighting design modelling to verify the lighting outcome prior to final design confirmation.
  • Upon request of Werribee Open Range Zoo, stars were cut into each dome in unique patterns so that during the day - when the sun shines through the domes - the shadows on the footpath show a different star constellation for each 'tree'.
  • Electrical cabling is run completely out of sight around the panels into the mounting frames, and down the centre of the trunk, underground to the equipment shed.

What Zoos Victoria says

I cannot begin to tell you how over the moon we are with the look of the Solar Trees. You absolutely nailed it! The look is even better than I imagined - so well done to you and thank you.
Nola Hudson, Project Manager Operations, Zoos Victoria

Client at a glance

Client
Zoos Victoria (Werribee Open Range Zoo)
Location
Werribee, Victoria
Completion date
2018
Project type
Solar Design

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